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Watch Out For A "Blood Moon" Eclipse

Tuesday is the first of a four part astronomical rarity. It's a "Blood Moon", a complete lunar eclipse, and the beginning of a tetrad. We sat down with a local Astronomer to see what the early morning sky will bring.
Tuesday is the first of a four part astronomical rarity. It's a "Blood Moon", a complete lunar eclipse, and the beginning of a tetrad. We sat down with a local Astronomer to see what the early morning sky will bring.

Connie Gonzalez reports...

We have just a few more hours to go until this beautiful astronomical event Tuesday morning. The Director of Angelo State University's Planetarium, Dr. Mark Sonntag, sat down with us to look at digital simulations of the four coming eclipses.

Tuesday morning's will be especially fascinating, because the viewer will see Mars and one of the brightest stars in the Universe, Spica. In addition, the entire cycle of the eclipse will be visible to North American viewers.

It's a night worth staying up late for or if you're like the the Director of Angelo State's Planetarium, Dr. Mark Sonntag, perhaps you'll be waking up extra early to witness a spectacular sight.

"Theoretically the moon will be as dark as it's going to get," Sonntag said.

This will be the first of four consecutive lunar eclipses, otherwise known as a tetrad, that will be visible to half the world at the same time.

"It's a natural event that's beautiful, that's predictable. That is sort of impressive the fact that we can predict it and know precisely when these things are going to occur," Sonntag said.

You'll be able to view the first total lunar eclipse since December 2011.

Tuesday's lunar eclipse begins around 1 a.m. where the moon moves through the earths shadow casting an orange-like color lasting for several hours to complete the full cycle.

"It's moving also in the opposite direction, and that's why when the evening starts there's no eclipse. What happens in the evening is that the moon is moving eastward and moves into the Earth's shadow.

That's not the only astronomical event occurring Tuesday morning, Mars will be visible for the first time in more than six years, and it's worth the wait to see this planet bigger and brighter.

"This one offers the most spectacular view as Mars goes by, but the last one is going to be the most convenient. Who knows, maybe it'll be cloudy," Sonntag said.

Mars won't be visible again for two years. Sonntag says take advantage of the clear skies for Tuesday's eye-catching experience. Look out for one of the brightest stars in the Universe, Spica, which will only be about a degree away from the moon.

"This one will definitely be visible to see the whole event, both as it goes into the shadow and then as it goes out of the shadow," Sonntag said.

Unlike solar eclipses, which only last minutes, this lunar eclipse is expected to last for four hours. Make sure to look all you want. Hey, you can even pull out the binoculars. It's going to  be a tough act to follow.

Tuesday's lunar eclipse is expected to be the most fascinating of the four. The next lunar eclipse will be about six months from now on October 8th; however, it's predicted we will only be able to view a partial cycle.
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